Jamie Carragher blogs on Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale
Last Updated: 03/11/13 4:11pm
Premium Rush: Liverpool legend was a great striker and worker, says Carra
The Cardiff v Swansea derby is live on Sky Sports this weekend and has got me thinking about some of the great Welsh players to have played in the Premier League.
As a former Liverpool player, one that springs to mind is Ian Rush, who is a legend at Anfield and would probably get in 99 per cent of fans' dream teams - which says a lot when you consider some of the strikers the club has had over the years.
Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen came through the youth team and became superstars, while Fernando Torres and, now, Luis Suarez have come in and lit the place up, but Rush will always be remembered fondly by the supporters as a great player and finisher.
"Ian was always known as the best defender at Liverpool despite being a centre-forward!"
I played with Ian once in a reserve game when he was coming to the end of his second spell at Liverpool and I was breaking through into the first-team picture and it really was a great honour.
His strike partnership with Kenny Dalglish was synonymous with Liverpool and will go down as not only one of the club's best but as the best in the history of English football, so to be in the same side as Ian was fantastic.
As a striker, he wasn't the sort of person to talk you through a game but he always led by example, not just with his goalscoring but with his work ethic as well; he was always known as the best defender at the club despite being a centre-forward!
It was great that Ian remained prolific when he came back to Liverpool after his time at Juventus and the fact he is now in an ambassadorial role is brilliant for the club.
His legendary status and worldwide profile - achieved, in the main, by his goalscoring exploits and winning two European Cups - will be a big boost for Liverpool over the next few years.
Giggs: over 650 league appearances for Man United
Ryan Giggs, meanwhile, will go down as one of the stand-out players in the Premier League era - and possibly even the greatest when you consider his longevity at a club the size of Manchester United.
To keep playing at such a high level when so much is expected of you, there is such stiff competition for places and the media always want a piece of you, is remarkable and should be respected whether you are a Man United fan or not.
You also have to credit him for the way he has turned himself from a winger into a very capable central midfield player, something John Barnes did at Liverpool when he was coming to the end of his career.
That move shows the understanding Giggs has of the game but it has also allowed him to display the experience he has picked up over the years in a crucial area of the pitch and help out the younger lads at the club.
Gareth Bale is similar to an early-day Giggs with the pace and trickery he offers out wide - though I would argue he was probably quicker than Ryan was - but he, too, can play in a variety of positions.
When Andre Villas-Boas came into Tottenham, he played Bale off the striker in a central position but in Saturday's Clasico at the Camp Nou he played as a false nine for Real Madrid, so he is not someone who is only happy out on the wing.
However, you always want your best players down the spine and I would say Bale's best position going forward would be in the hole - though he has a lot of competition for that role at Madrid, doesn't he?
An old team-mate of mine, Craig Bellamy, will be hoping to play for Cardiff on Sunday and if he does, you can be sure that he will bring work-rate and be someone for his side, which features many players just starting their Premier League careers, to look up to.
Craig has been used sparingly this season, probably because of his age and the injuries he has had in the past, but he will be vital this year, both on the pitch and with the things he says and the example he sets off it.
Sunday's game will be fantastic because you always want something new to watch and talk about and the first South Wales derby in the Premier League, which I'm sure will be spicy, gives us that.
You get the feeling that it is going to be tight for Cardiff in terms of staying up but they have got some good results, most notably at home to Manchester City, so will fancy their chances in this game.
Swansea, meanwhile, have probably struggled with Thursday-Sunday football - as we saw with Newcastle last season - but they play great football and I'm sure they will improve once the Europa League group stage is out of the way.
I am really looking forward to the match but whatever happens, I think Cardiff and Swansea will be in the Premier League next season.